International human rights organisation Amnesty International has urged Slovakia’s government to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible. There are already 107 signatory countries to the convention, which entered into force yesterday Sunday, 1 August.
Campaign coordinator of the Slovak unit of the human rights organisation, Martina Mazurova, informed that the list of signatories includes an outright majority of EU member states. “While these countries are celebrating the entry into force of the treaty, which will save countless lives, in Slovakia this inhumane ammunition, which causes civilian population the same suffering as booby traps, continues to be manufactured,” said Mazurova.
She says Slovakia is one of the last four European Union countries to have manufactured or which still manufacture cluster bombs, and which have not yet signed the international treaty. The companies ZVS Holding, a.s. based in Dubnica nad Vahom and Konstrukta Defense a.s. are authorised to produce these highly destructive munitions. Slovakia still has stockpiles of this weapon, which are supposed to be replaced by 2020 at the latest.
The European Union itself has called on all member states to accede to this important humanitarian and disarmament convention by the end of 2010. The convention bans the production, storage, use or transfer of cluster ammunition and also promotes aid to individuals and communities that fall victim to these cruel and indiscriminate weapons.
In response, Ministry of Defence spokesman, Richard Sumeghy, told TASR newswire that although the ministry recommends Slovakia’s accession to the convention, the country should only do so once it is able to meet the commitments set out in it. “The ban on producing cluster bombs has strong financial implications that have to be properly considered when preparing to take part in the convention,” Sumeghy said.
Cluster bombs are made up of multiple small bombs, which are dropped from aircraft or fired from artillery guns with the intention of hitting several targets simultaneously – this often means tens of thousands of bombs explode over a relatively small area. Some of the bombs may fail to discharge and can then pose a threat for a long time to come. They have been used in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, the Balkans and southern Lebanon, among others.